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Major Bowel Surgery

Patients may need to have a segment of bowel removed for treatment of conditions like bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel conditions or diverticular disease. This surgery may be performed using laparoscopic (keyhole) or traditional open techniques. Your surgeon will talk to you about which part of the bowel needs to be removed and the likely effects of its removal. Patients are usually hospitalised for 5-7 days and full recovery can take up to 12 weeks.

Post Operative Instructions

Most patients having bowel surgery are ready for discharge after 5–7 days. Some elderly patients or patients living alone may require a short period of convalescence prior to returning home.


Patients will be advised if a specific diet is necessary. Some patients will need a low fibre diet for the first few months after surgery. Patients should eat small portions and chew their food well.

Wound care

Dressings can be removed 5 days after surgery. Staples are removed after 7–10 days.

Stoma education

A nurse specialist will teach patients how to care for their new stoma. Community stoma therapists are also available when ongoing support is needed.


Laxatives should only be used after discussing this with your surgeon.


Patients should not drive for 3 weeks after laparoscopic bowel surgery or 5 weeks after open surgery.


Regular walking is encouraged after discharge. Vigorous physical activity and core strengthening exercises should be avoided for at least 4 weeks (longer for open surgery).

More Information

Visit to Download “Improving Bowel Function After Bowel Surgery ” PDF.

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